Snowshoes were once required gear for getting around in regions with heavy snowfall and harsh winter conditions. Snowshoeing today is a popular and accessible winter activity you can do for recreation and a cardio workout.
The equipment is relatively inexpensive, but your snowshoeing experience and performance will also depend on footwear. We have reviewed the five best boots for snowshoeing.
All of our picks perform well by themselves when walking or hiking in ice and snow weather, but they’ll particularly serve you well in combination with snowshoes.
We’ll give you our top selection of boots below and then go into further details of which features are important.
Quick Answer: The 5 Best Snowshoeing Boots For 2017
- Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boot
- Merrell Moab Polar Waterproof Winter Boot
- Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Omni Cold-Weather Boot
- Baffin Snosport Hiking Boot
- Vasque Coldspark Ultradry Snow Boot
Best Boots For Snowshoeing
Snowshoe Boots Reviews
The Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX hiking boot is an aggressive, high-performance shoe where the manufacturer has improved upon the great qualities of the first generation.
You can rely on its water resistance with the Gore-Tex lining and trust that your ankle and foot will be protected. At a medium weight, you get high stability and support with excellent grip on a wide range of surfaces and even in snowy and icy terrain.
Salomon achieves this with an updated synthetic Contagrip sole and a layered interior with dynamic cushioning.
With a gusseted tongue, heel foam and strap, an ankle collar and a rugged lacing system with blocker, these boots are easy to put on and adjust.
Key Features of the Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boot:
|Synthetic sole, textile and Nubuck leather upper||Not too heavy||Many exposed seams|
|Approx. weight: 22.6 oz||Comfortable, hardly needs to be broken in||Upper has some flexibility|
|Removable, molded EVA footbed||Great stability, support & grip||Less breathable|
|Protective caps, mud guard||Very versatile|
They’re comfortable from the beginning and will serve you well in a wide range of outdoor activities from hiking, trail running and backpacking to snowshoeing.
A minor downside are the many exposed seams and the uppers, which are composed of mixed materials and are on the flexible side. However, with a mud guard and toe cap, you’re sufficiently protected for snowshoe application.
The Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX will take heavy use in rough conditions all year long while keeping you comfortable and overall the best boots for Snowshoeing.
Women’s Model: Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX Women’s Snowshoe Boot has all the great features of the Men’s version but offers lightweight support specifically for female feet.
The Merrell Moab Polar waterproof winter boots are a reasonable budget option with good value. The manufacturer aimed to provide a comfortable hiking boot of low weight which you can wear all day, and they largely succeeded.
A protective waterproof shell keeps out the wetness while a low bulk insulation of polyester fibers keeps you warm. A special treatment on the inside keeps smells at bay.
A rubber outsole offers good grip on slippery surfaces but is less suitable for rocky hikes and scrambling over boulders. An EVA midsole and footbed support your feet and your ankle finds support in the nylon shank.
Key Features of the Merrell Moab Polar Waterproof Winter Boot:
|Rubber outsole, EVA midsole, upper from cow suede with synthetic mesh||Lightweight & comfortable||Less durable|
|Approx. weight: 24 oz||Good for all-day wear & lighter activity||Some people report narrow sizing|
|Removable, molded EVA footbed||Goood performance for a budget boot||Performance not as good in aggressive terrain (hiking only)|
|Nylon shank ankle support|
The upper from cow suede and mesh is flexible and leaves seams with the protective shell exposed. It’s evident that the lower price on these winter boots comes at the cost of durability. The boots perform better in snow than in wet conditions.
Pay attention to the sizing as a small fit will give you cold feet faster. The narrow, silhouette fit could be a pain point but if you get the fit correct, these are among the best snowshoe boots.
Women’s Model: Merrell Women’s Snowbound Mid Waterproof Winter Boot has identical features and a Ladies sizing and fit.
The Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Omni-Heat winter boot is waterproof, insulated against the cold and on the tall side for support and protection.
Designed to be lightweight, the 200g insulation is thin, yet the so-called Omni-Heat reflective lining traps body heat to keep your feet warm.
This works better than on other boots with the same amount of insulation. Support rests on the stiffer Techlite shell and midsole. An Omni-Grip outsole from non-marking rubber gives you great traction on ice, snow and slush.
Key Features of the Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Omni Boot:
|Omni-Grip traction rubber outsole, Techlite midsole & shell, leather, nylon, webbing upper||Lightweight, yet good insulation (rated for -25°F)||A bit clunky|
|Approx. weight: 22 oz||Great waterproofing||Size up slightly if you prefer to wear very thick socks|
|Cushioning and lightweight midsole||Good grip and traction on snow and ice|
|200g insulation with Omni-Heat reflective lining||Affordable with good value|
|Gusseted tongue||Tall and stiff for good protection|
|OutDry membrane on the upper for water protection|
The upper is a durable mixture of nylon, leather and webbing and a gusseted tongue keeps snow out even in ankle-deep conditions. The Columbia Bugaboot is comfortable, yet slightly clunky.
The sturdiness is great for snowshoeing, but depending on your preference, for winter and harsh weather hikes, you might prefer a slightly more flexible shoe. The Columbia Bugaboot are by far the best snowshoe boots for the money.
Women’s Model: Columbia Women’s Buga Plus III Omni-Heat is the Ladies version of these boots with identical qualities.
The Baffin Snosport Hiking Boot is a mid-height mode that is waterproof and insulated. The manufacturer lists a temperature rating of 50°F to -4°F, which is achieved with an ultralight hollow fiber insulation.
Water is kept out thanks to a waterproof yet breathable membrane. Stability and protection are provided by the ankle shaft, a TPU base plate and tendon guard.
The EVA midsole supports you and the Polar rubber outsole gives you traction, although it could be slightly stiffer for better performance, especially on rocks.
Key Features of the Baffin Snosport Hiking Boot:
|Polar rubber outsole, EVA midsole, soft shell upper with membrane||Lightweight & insulation (rated for 50°F to -4°F)||Low weight comes at the cost of a soft shell|
|Approx. weight: 21 oz||Comfortable with quick, easy entry & exit||Size/fit: many users report ordering up 1-2 sizes for best results|
|Removable multi-density insole||Good traction||Sole could be stiffer|
|Lightweight Baffin B-Tek hollow fiber insulation||Molded tendon guard & raised ankle ledge for snowshoes|
|Single-pull lace system with lock|
A quick-pull lacing system allows you to easily step in and out of these winter boots, and they hardly need to be broken in since they’re softer than other models.
A light option in this temperature range, the Baffin Snosport hiking boots are good for snowshoeing, colder climate and backpacking trips in harsher conditions.
The Vasque Coldspark Ultradry Snow Boot is a lightweight model designed for hiking and snowshoeing in moderate winter conditions.
They feature a compound outsole for good grip, a molded EVA midsole and a dual density EVA footbed for comfort. The upper is composed of waterproof leather and a soft shell.
As a result, the shoes don’t need serious breaking in and are comfortable from the start. In terms of performance, they’re great for fast hikes in moderate conditions.
Stability is sufficient thanks to the shaft and a molded rubber heel kick. However, the soft exterior is a downside: it lacks rigidity and can collapse when you attach snowshoes or microspikes, depending on the system for attaching them.
Key Features: Vasque Coldspark Ultradry Snow Boot:
|Rubber outsole, molded EVA midsole, leather & soft shell upper||Lightweight warmth (temp. Range approx 50°F - 10°F)||Squishy toebox with little protection, not ideal for snowshoes|
|Approx. weight: 20 oz||Good traction||Waterproofing not perfect, soft shell upper soaks|
|Dual density insole||Good breathability|
|200g 3M insulation||Speed-lacing loops & quick release hooks|
|Fleece collar lining, gaiter D-ring||Comfortable, hardly any breaking in|
This can lead to discomfort and pressure on the toes. In addition, in slushy and wet conditions, the upper becomes soaked and can compromise the waterproofing.
There is a D-ring to attach gaiters, which can help keep moisture out. The Vasque Coldspark winter boots focus on lightweight comfort, but the 200g 3M insulation keeps you warm in normal winter climate, even on long days.
Their grip on snow and ice is good and you have sufficient room for thick winter socks. These shoes are not heavy-duty, but are a reasonable choice if you value comfort in moderate winter.
Women’s Model: Vasque Women’s Coldspark Ultradry Snow Boot has identical features and a Ladies sizing and fit.
How to Choose the Best Snowshoeing Boot For You
- Key Considerations For Snowshoe Boots
- Fit & Comfort
- Stability & Stiffness
- Care and Maintenance
Snowshoes come in different types for flat, rolling or steep mountain terrain, and your gear should match conditions. Similarly, your winter boots should work well with your specific snowshoe model.
For challenging terrain and in most cases, sturdy and rigid boots work well, but there are lightweight and low-impact snowshoes which work best with the softer, lightweight models (sometimes called fastpacking).
Key Considerations For Snowshoe Boots
A good winter boot for snowshoeing keeps your feet warm and dry and prevents you from unnecessarily expending strength and energy thanks to the following features:
A good and secure fit ensure your feet stay put within the boots while a sturdy upper allows you to tight attach the snowshoes without compressing the footwear or putting pressure on your feet.
In winter, you want to stay warm, of course. Boots keep your feet toasty with a combination of insulation and a liner. The material traps your body heat inside while keeping the cold out.
To save weight, manufacturers tend to use 100, 200 or 400 grams of synthetic. On some models, you’ll find a reflective liner that further increases warmth.
To keep moisture out, snowshoe boots feature a barrier. Usually the sole acts as a bottom layer, whereas material on the upper repels water from the top.
This can be a waterproof upper such as leather or a membrane from synthetic fibers. Winter boots usually do a better job to protect from frozen water such as ice, snow and slush, than from liquids such as puddles and rain.
Most boots feature a combination upper with both leather and synthetics in order to maintain breathability. The tongue of a shoe further helps keeping frozen water out.
Fit & Comfort
The proper fit will not only influence the comfort of your boots, it’s also essential to provide protection for your ankles and toes. In terms of height, winter boots should at least cover and secure the ankle.
The deeper the snow, the higher the shaft should be to keep out snow. Full height to the knee is overkill, though, since the purpose of snowshoes is also to prevent you from sinking in too deep into the powder.
If you feet move around too much, you’ll tire out quickly while snowshoeing. Yet you need enough room for thicker socks and to maintain circulation. Compression will chill your feet – they need “breathing space.”
Stability & Stiffness
A sturdy, non-compressible upper is good so you can fit snowshoe bindings tightly and securely and prevent your footwear from shifting.
When snowshoeing, your traction depends on your equipment. As outlined earlier, a thick and rigid boot sole helps transfer energy better.
Apart from that, you’ll want to pay attention to the sole of your winter boots for when you go outside without snowshoes. Winter boots commonly apply a sole similar to a snow tire, with deep lugs, a large surface area and sticky rubber.
Softer rubber grips well on snowy surfaces and ice. Deep powder and rocky patches and trails call for a more sturdy sole. Manufacturer compromise by a combination of materials and a stiffer central area of the outsole.
These are non-essential, nice to have features. Many manufacturers make it easy to get in and out of the boots with a quick-lace system and sometimes include a heel strap for slipping them on.
Care and Maintenance
Maintenance on winter boots is minimal, but if you wear them in town, pay attention to salt or chemicals on sidewalks and remove any accumulation as they can be aggressive to your boots.
The liners on the reviewed snowshoe boots are fixed, and removable ones are usually a feature of heavy-duty expedition boots only.
So take note: waterproof boots that get wet inside from either sweat or snow and ice which have entered will stay wet for a while. Pat them dry and stuff them with newspaper or a shoe cushion to absorb the moisture and dry the liner.
Identify which features you need on snowshoe boots by defining the terrain and condition in which you’ll go snowshoeing. Match your pick to the type of snow gear you already own or want to get.
Also consider how versatile you want your boots to be, that is when you’ll use them without snowshoes. Do they need to be suitable for the city, or for scrambling over rocks on challenging mountain trails?
Will you also wear ice spikes, or is their traction sufficient for your situation? Think of the temperature range and make sure you have sufficient insulation in your shoes.
Stay warm and enjoy snowshoeing through the winter wonderland! If you are new to snowshoeing, be sure to see my How To Snowshoe – Guide For Beginners.
I hope this guide was helpful in picking the best boots for snowshoeing to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a pair of boots I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.
New to snowshoeing? Read my Beginners Guide to Snowshoeing for tips and advice.
Have fun and be safe out there!